Professional Communication—Email

Email communication can be tricky.

I worked with a wonderful nurse who started an email to her professor:

"Well, dang...." Don't do this. It didn't go well.

Think of an email as a formal letter that you might have sent in the snail mail (you know, USPS-no offense to our postal friends!).

This is particularly true when sending an email to potential employers and instructors when making a request.

communication diagram

Say hello and sign your name.

  • It is always tempting to just launch into your concern, issues, or request. It is terrific to be efficient and direct. Take a second to say "hello" first, though!
  • Yes, the receiving person can probably tell who you are from your email address, but it is best not to assume, particularly when trying to make a positive impression. Sign your name!

Be calm.

  • Avoid emailing when upset or emotional. Though this is often the precise moment we want to communicate, this is the worst time to do so.
  • Draft the email, do not add the receiving person's email address yet, reread the email later to make any needed changes, and then send.

Be clear.

  • For emails to nursing instructors, of the multitude of students the instructor teaches in one week, the subject line should include identifying information, such as course number.
  • For emails to potential employers, identify yourself by the position who applied for, date of application, and any other relevant details that help you stand out in a positive light.
  • When relevant, use the subject line to relay the title of the assignment, information, or issue that you are communicating about.
  • Informal language, sarcasm, and loads of personal details are types of communication best left out of emails, though many of us are guilty.
  • If the situation is complex, state the situation briefly and suggest a meeting time.

The body of the email (Think I-SBAR):

  • state exactly what the issue is
  • explain what you have already done to work toward a solution
  • request and action you need from the email recipient

use gramer spllg -n- punkshon

(Use grammar, spelling, and punctuation!)

Seriously, poor email construction causes some readers to judge the writer. You want the content of your email to be front and center, not your lack of attention to detail.

The goal ?

Make sure the recipient remembers the wonderful you!